South Sudan Marks Press Freedom Day

Dr. Barnaba Marial (in a suit) and Oliver Modi (extreme right) cutting the cake during the ceremony [©Gurtong/ Waakhe Wudu]The South Sudanese Information Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial described the media environment in South Sudan as still “hostile and dangerous” due to absence of legal framework. He said much as journalists and other media activists experience challenging moments in the fraternity, the government experiences challenges too. 

Dr. Barnaba who graced the ceremony said his government is ensuring an improved fair and friendly environment for the freedom of press in South Sudan which gained independent in July last year. 

So far the media bills have been passed by the National Council of Ministers and await legislation by the National Parliament next month he said. Adding the bills when ratified will improve the legal environment for effective operation of the media in the country. 

“There will be no excuse on ignorance that you do not know the media law when passed,” Marial told journalists and civil society activists during the ceremony held in New Sudan Palace.

“All levels of governments shall guarantee the freedom of the media,” said Marial. 

He called on the media to exert more efforts in liberating the country from the “lack of know how.” He said due to the decades of war that displaced South Sudanese to the different parts of the world, there are a number of cultures adopted by the nationals which demands the role of the media in forging a common identity among all the nationals. 

This years’ press freedom day commemorated under the theme “access to quality information and its relationship to media freedom” organized by the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) in collaboration with the Norwegian’s People’s Aid, (NPA) and UNICEF drew a number of media activists .

Meanwhile, UJOSS Chairperson Mr. Oliver Modi said that for the last two years, the media fraternity in South Sudan  has significantly improved despite lack of legal framework and a few challenges marring the sector. 
 
He pointed out lack of incomplete media structures, cases of journalists’ arrest, harassment and continuous detentions over the last two years have remained some of the main challenges in the sector. Lack of media houses to satisfy the needs of journalists and lack of higher institutions offering journalism courses are other challenges that need to be rectified both in the private and government owned institutions.

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